Thursday, February 28, 2013

Call for Camp Submissions!

Apologies for the super quick post--Sam and I are in San Francisco for the week--but do any of you guys have old summer camp photos and/or videos you'd be willing to let me use to make a book trailer?

(I didn't know those existed, either, but apparently they do, which means I get to fulfill my lifelong dream of making the only kind of movie that really counts--A PREVIEW. I am one of those assholes who cannot get enough previews. I like my movies to have roughly ten. Also if we miss any part of the previews the movie is ruined. Yes, I know, I sound like a super fun date. But I'm getting off topic.)

If you have photos or videos that you'd be willing to let me use on the Internet without subsequently suing me, please email them to me at fivesummersbook@gmail.com.

And to be clear, I mean camp like woods and bug juice and bunk beds and s'mores, not like a Joan Crawford drag review called Mommie Queerest (also a thing that exists!). But campy camp photos are of course welcome.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

The 7 Deadly Sins of DIY Bangs

Look, we've all been there.

Picture this: It's a weekend afternoon. Your parents/roommate/spouse/children are out doing something productive, and you are sweat-stuck to the couch, wearing a top OR pants but definitely not both.

You think about taking a shower. You walk to the bathroom, because when it comes to personal grooming, showing up is half the battle. (The other half of the battle is remembering to shave both legs, and then return your parent's/roomate's/spouse's razor to its cradle without any visible pubes).

But before you even make it to the shower, you see your reflection in the bathroom mirror (SIN #1) and you do this:


Because you are looking straight tore up.

What can I do to instantly improve my appearance? You ask yourself. You look around for tools. There's a toilet plunger, which would probably only make things worse. There's a toothbrush, which is no help because you're already uncorking the wine. Then your eyes fall on a Walgreen's generic brand mud mask that you purchased sometime in 2007, but even though it has hardened to an impenetrable solid you reason that it might be hard to knock yourself unconscious with it on the first try. And that is really your only choice because you look like Tom Hanks in Castaway.... after he lost Wilson. Yeah, it's bad.

It is only then, in an emotional state best described as "umbrella Britney," that you see the scissors. They're nail scissors, but hey, tomato to-mah-to, right?

I don't know when bangs became such a facial game-changer. I think we can safely blame Zooey Deschanel, who seems to have had a falling out with the real estate above her eyeballs circa the mid-aughts. (Worshipping false forehead idols like Deschanel, TaySwift, and even, Bo forgive me, FLOTUS = SIN #2!) But we all secretly think we would look good with bangs. And so, without fail, you--the you who, so far in this short story, has neglected to take care of basic needs like bathing or wearing both tops and bottoms--become convinced that not only do you NEED bangs, but that you are CAPABLE OF CUTTING THEM YOURSELF. (SIN #3) After all, you make a mean pair of cutoff jean shorts.

You can totally do this, purrs the slovenly, pants less devil on your shoulder. Remember the last time you got your hair cut? It was so easy, you don't need to pay anyone. Just pull the hair straight up, snip like you're making a construction paper snowflake, and loudly speculate as to whether Stacy Kiebler is George Clooney's beard.

Ugh, she totally is, you think, as you pick up the scissors (SIN #4). She is a retired professional wrestler who was on Dancing With the Stars, for God's sake. She's not even a beard, she's like a gross little Billy Bob Thornton soul patch.

You fold some of your hair over your forehead and mug for the mirror. You pretend you are Katy Perry at the VMAs, and that you are wearing a bra made of gummy bears. Yes, you think, I can totally rock bangs.

Totes McGotes! cries the devil on your shoulder.

You hold the hair out in front of you, ironically obscuring your vision. You snip, (SIN #5) visualizing a sexily open-mouthed Jennifer Garner (SIN # 6; no one looks sexy that way in real life).

This is just one example.

You examine your handiwork and find that you have cut at a 45 degree angle from your left eyebrow to your right earlobe. You cut again. This time you've gone too short on the right side. Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead and go to a salon, you think, a cool breeze of sanity that blows right through your ears.

Then you remember that you still have to shower and shave and either wash or set fire to the sink full of dishes before your parents/roommate/spouse/children return. You soldier on (SIN #7a), snipping away like a sculptor trying to reveal the masterpiece trapped in a block of marble.

And five minutes later, you step back and look in the mirror (SIN #7b).


It is your David, your Mona Lisa, your rheumy-eyed portrait of an elderly Kate Middleton. It is also your fault.

Luckily there is still that burrito. And that wine.

And... hats.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top of the Heap: An Imagined Conversation With One of My Spam Emails

LinkedIn: Una! CONGRATULATIONS!! You have one of the top 10% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012!!!

Me: OMG. What?! I don't think I even know anyone who actually uses LinkedIn. I'm pretty sure last week I got endorsed by the barista at Starbucks who always gets my name wrong. But this. Changes. Everything. Obviously I am famous. [Break for Carlton dance]


Me: Wait, do you have algorithms that can figure out how many of my profile views were from ex-boyfriends sobbing over fifths of Jim Beam? Or how many were Hollywood assistants quivering in fear that they wouldn't be the first to secure the film rights to my book?

LinkedIn: Um, no. Actually our big news is that we've reached 200 million users! So this is a huge day for both of us.

Me: What's 10% of 200,000,000?

LinkedIn: No, don't do that.

Me: Math, math, math...

LinkedIn: Did we tell you about our new templates?

Me: I know I just move the decimal place, but then I have to move all of the commas, too...

LinkedIn: Not relevant.

Me: OK, done. 10% of 200 million is... 20 million! Incidentally got a 750 on my math SATs. Out of 800. Which is...

LinkedIn: Please don't even try.

Me: ...like a really high percentile.

LinkedIn: Bravo.

Me: But wait. So I'm in the top 20 million profiles viewed in 2012?

LinkedIn: Top 10%, yes. Congratulations. Share this impressive statistic on Facebook!

Me: You think I'm stupid, don't you?

LinkedIn: Um, obviously not, superstar.

Me: [Talk to the hand gesture]

LinkedIn: Really? 1994 called, and it wants its nonverbal retort back.

Me: Yeah, well, Facebook called, and... it says... NOBODY EVEN USES YOU!

LinkedIn: Good one.

Me: Oh, it is on.

[Highly dramatic dance-off, which I win, because LinkedIn has no legs.]

Me: That's what I thought.
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Monday, February 11, 2013

I Am The Gatekeeper, But He is the Keymaster

On Saturday morning, out of the blue, Sam ganked a set of keys from the coffee table and set about making his escape. Apparently, the last 16 months have not been, as I assumed, a beautiful and enriching bonding experience, but rather an undercover opportunity for him to study locksmithing at close range, nothing but a means to a Shawshank-style redemption.


Just when you think you know a guy.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Old Married Lady Walks Into A Bar...

On Saturday night I went out. To bars. Plural. This almost never happens.

A few years ago, yes, I was flirting with sailors and knocking back watery Buds like a bargain basement bin Carrie Bradshaw, but these days, I tend to go to bars at 2:30 pm, in yoga pants with a toddler in tow (I know that makes me sound like a sloppy alcoholic, but I'm trying to be sensitive to the needs of normal adults, specifically the after-work crowds who would rather not have babies harshing their 5 o'clock mellows).

Truthfully, I've never been much of a bar girl to begin with. I'm naturally standoffish around strangers, I like to have a place to sit down at all times, and my go-to drink is red wine, which is just not a cool bar drink (the divier the bar, the more asshatty you look clutching your dusty stem glass of Yellowtail merlot). I can and do drink beer and hard liquor, but it doesn't usually end well. Which, incidentally, is a great segue into my story!

I went out with two friends, who for the sake of Internet privacy I'll call Flopsy and Mopsy. Flopsy is a married mother of two; Mopsy is a single gal about town who spends most of her time trying not to get kicked out of the country for being Canadian. Both are awesome.

We started out at a wine bar, where we drained two bottles of red over a light dinner while Flops and I scared Mops with stories of our kids almost choking to death on organic cheddar bunnies. You know, girl talk.

We were tipsy by then, so we wandered through the softly falling snow to a bar a block away. None of us had ever been. We squeezed behind the bar in our puffy winter coats and were debating what to order when a thin, nerdy gentleman with a Mr. Rogers/Norman Batesy vibe offered to buy us a round of beers. He was wearing a sweater and said he was a historian. We looked at each other and were like, why not?

Here's why not: Letting someone buy you a drink is basically agreeing to make forced, awkward conversation with them for the duration of said drink. That's not so bad, right? Well, not usually (says the girl who has been offered drinks by strangers maybe twice, total, ahem), but this guy--who, for the sake of Internet privacy I will call The Racist Historian--turned out to be a super creep. The whole Norman Bates aesthetic should have been a giveaway, but what can I say, I don't get out much.

When your name is Una, no one hears it correctly the first time in a loud bar. This is my life:
"I'm Una."
"Luna, hi."
"No, Una."
"Sorry, Uta."
"Una, with an N.*"
"Uma. Cool, like Uma Thurman?"
"No, an N. N like Nancy."
"Wow, sorry Nancy. I totally misheard you the first time."
*Una With An N is going to be my self-produced cabaret album title.

So TRH's first mistake was calling me Uma.

His second was casually dropping the word "mulatto."

I wish I could tell you in what context he said it, but I was busy sipping my shitty free beer and trying to adjust to the new landscape. Being out at a bar after midnight on a weekend without my husband or child was like being abruptly socialized after years in the wild. I was basically Jodie Foster in Nell. My inner monologue went something like:

Should I take off my coat? Everyone else is magically not wearing coats, even though there are no visible coat racks. But if I take off my coat, then I have to pretend to hang it nonchalantly over one arm, which works with a light jacket, but not in winter. If I did that now I'd just look like I was trying to strangle a sleeping bag to death. Also taking my coat off might be seen as an invitation to look at my--HOLD UP, did he just say mulatto? 

So. Flopsy, Mopsy and I tried to start our own conversation without seeming rude, by doing the patented lady move of turning away in small increments until you are facing in the opposite direction. Flopsy started talking about her dad's heart problems--again, fun girl talk--when TRH awkwardly attempted to insert himself back in.

"I'm feeling kind of left out here," he said loudly.

"Oh, we were just talking about my father's medical history," Flopsy muttered.

TRH sighed and then reached over, grabbed my beer, and used it to refill his beer. It was as stark a rejection as I've ever seen in person, except maybe for that scene in Gladiator when Joaquin Phoenix does the really dramatic thumbs down.

I began furtively texting Jeff:
Me: Is it rude to ignore the dude who just bought you a beer?
Jeff: Ish
Me: He is a racist historian, though.
Jeff: Bold angle for a p***y hunt.
*Sorry, I can't say--or type--the word p***y if it's in reference to anatomy and not to, you know, just being a pussy. 

After that we did the somewhat less classy lady move of quickly walking out of the bar and erupting into drunken giggles. I mean, it was nice and all for him to buy our drinks, but what did TRH think would happen? That he would hit on all three of us simultaneously, kind of cast a wide net, and fill us with hops and whispered epithets until one (or more) of us decided to throw caution to the wind and go home with him? Obviously he didn't even do a ring check. Amateur.

The next bar we teetered into was a lively, cavernous establishment that caters to the Brooklyn hipster, which is the most advanced species in the hipster taxonomy--and the mothership did not disappoint (it had two full-size bocce courts, for Christ's sake). Almost immediately, once again, we were set upon, this time by two much friendlier and more attractive men named Wasn't Listening and Don't Care (to be fair, my name for the evening was Look, I'm Married and Tired and Wearing a Giant Puffer Coat With Dried Banana On It, Can Someone Just Find Me A Seat And Maybe A Cheese Plate? )

Seriously, though, it sucks to be married and talking to nice single guys, because you don't want to wait until an awkward moment to flash your ring ("So, Ula, why don't you take off your coat, get comfortable?""Haha, I need to get going soon. My husband is watching our child. Haha.") but you also don't want to be so presumptuous that you start every conversation with "HI, I'M MARRIED, DON'T BOTHER." So I just sipped my Jack and ginger and stood there being jealous of everyone at the bar who wasn't  wearing a stretched-out maternity top. Bitches.

I won't lie, it was a blast to go out on the town with girlfriends for the first time in what feels like years, and of course it was nice to be quasi-hit on by three men, even if one of them was a confirmed racist and probable serial killer. But as I walked home in the snow, and then tip-toed into my warm, quiet apartment, finally doffing my down-filled armor and forcing my sleepy-eyed husband to slow dance with me in his boxer shorts, I realized that I needed to get out just to discover that, most of the time, I'd rather stay in.

Vomit, I know. But all good bar stories end in vomit.
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Friday, February 1, 2013

L'Interview (That's INTERVIEW in Fancy)

Yes, I'm pimping my book again. I warned you. But it's Friday, so you're drunk, and you don't care. Stay with me. Eyes up here.

Today you can read all about my ass-backwards path to publication, my literary idols, and my bitterness at not being more like Diane Keaton over at Writing 4 Two, a blog written by two mothers working towards becoming authors. I was so flattered that they were interested in me and Five Summers that I sent them a sexy boudoir shot to use in the post:

The writer life, it is glamorous. Don't hate.
And here's my whore spiel yet again*:

*Hi, Mom!!! Did you imagine me typing that last sentence when you gave me my first I Can Read book? Are you super proud??

Here are some things you can do if you want to help me publicize the book over the next few months...
    The Sassy Curmudgeon
  1. If you or someone you know is in the position of reviewing YA books in print or online, please get in touch with me so that I can arrange to send a galley copy!
  2. Also if you want to interview me, even for your Cat Fancy podcast or whatever, I am TOTALLY DOWN. I will take any opportunity I can get to talk at length about myself. Just ask Jeff, or my third grade teacher, for whom I once wrote an essay titled "Matisse and Me." Yes, that's Henri Matisse. Not many people know the extent to which I influenced his work.
Have a great weekend!

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